Experts are predicting a "celestial traffic jam" in the sky this week. As we gear up for the year's best-known shooting-star event, the annual Perseid meteor shower, another event, the Delta Aquarid meteor shower, may prove more spectacular.
The Delta Aquarid meteor shower is expected to peak on Friday night when the Delta Aquarids' more productive Perseid cousin is just ramping up.
The lesser known Delta Aquarid, in combination with the beginning of the Perseid meteor shower, could together produce anywhere between 15 and 30 shooting stars per hour under clear, dark skies.
This may be stargazers' best chance at seeing a spectacular meteor show this summer. Perseid's peak on August 12 happens to coincide with a bright full moon that will drastically cut down on the number of meteors visible to the naked eye.
"While the moon is set to be an unpleasant guest for the Perseid peak, sky watchers are not out of luck as the Delta Aquarids could be one of the best meteor showers of the year," said Raminder Singh Samra, astronomer at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, Canada.
"The new moon during the peak of the Delta Aquarids may actually allow for a much more spectacular display."
Both the Delta Aquarids and Perseids are caused by Earth's atmosphere slamming into clouds of grain-sized particles shed by orbiting comets. When the particles enter the atmosphere at speeds of up to 93,200 miles (150,000 kilometers) per hour, they burn up in a fleeting streak of light.
While the Delta Aquarids are not as spectacular as the Perseids, the simultaneous activity during the last days of July and early August promise the best chance for observers to see a lot of shooting stars.
Where and when to watch:
-The dual meteor showers will be visible with the naked eye for most people around the world.
-The meteor showers are best seen in dark, rural areas away from city lights.
-Since the meteors will streak across the top of the sky, lie down on a blanket or recline in a lawn chair.
-Allow enough time for your eyes to adjust to the dark.
-Because meteor shower activity increases as the night progresses, your best chances for a great show are just before dawn.
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